Plant a Tree
It's almost Tu B'Shevat, that fruit-eating and tree-planting time of year. Now, someone out there might be wondering what he would do if he was in the middle of planting a tree (or at least parting with his money for a tree certificate!) and Moshiach came.
Interestingly enough, one of our Sages answered that question over 1,500 years ago!
Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai used to say: "If there is a plant in your hand when they say to you: 'Behold, the Moshiach!' go and plant the seedling, and afterward go out to greet him."
What does this mean to you? Take a moment to think about it and then read on.
"Behold, Moshiach is coming."
"Moshiach is here."
"Moshiach is revealed."
The Rebbe made these statements publicly at numerous gatherings in 1991-92. One might conjecture that, once such powerful statements were made, all that was left for us to do was sit around and wait for some kind of high-tech, multi-media, miraculous event to take place which would herald the Messianic Era.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Although the Rebbe said that all of the spiritual service which needed to be completed in exile had been done, we were not expected to take a short vacation until the Redemption. On the contrary, the Rebbe told us to prepare ourselves to greet Moshiach by performing acts of goodness and kindness, doing more mitzvot, studying more Torah, and performing mitzvot in a more perfect manner.
"Go and plant the seedling," the Rebbe tells us. Continue and increase all of the good and G-dly things you are presently doing. Learn more. Give more. Do more. For the more you plant now, the more bountiful will be your harvest in the Messianic Era.
In addition, the Rebbe mentioned numerous times that we will lose nothing in the Messianic Era. To those people who were concerned that everything they worked to build up businesses, relationships, material possessions would be lost when Moshiach comes, the Rebbe explained that the difference between our lives in exile and in the Messianic Era is symbolized by the Hebrew words "gola" - "exile," and "geula" - "Redemption." The only difference between these two words is that "gola" lacks the Hebrew letter "alef" - which stands for the "Alufo shel olam" - the "Master of the Universe." When Moshiach comes, the presence and life-giving energy of the Master of the Universe will be totally revealed in every aspect of our lives.
"Go and plant the seedling," Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai tells us. And surely, with all the fruits of your labor, from all the seedlings you have planted, you will be able to greet Moshiach in a dignified and upright manner.